Archive for October, 2010




Eggleston’s Southern Gothic restored…


Legendary photographer William Eggleston, working with filmmaker Robert Gordon, recently edited thirty hours of video footage he’d shot in 1974 of friends, family, and eclectic characters encountered in the bars and back roads of his hometown of Memphis, as well as New Orleans and the Delta region.

The hypnotic result is Stranded in Canton, a film that consistently teeters on the edge of dream and nightmare states. Its nocturnal visions of bar denizens, musicians (including Furry Lewis), transvestites and a variety of semi-crazies comes off like a Cassavetes all-nighter filmed by David Lynch at his most unsettling: faces loom out of darkness, shot in infrared, displaying pale glowing skin and deep black eyes. There’s even a real-life geek-off (yes, the type with chickens)!

And it’s mesmerizing, partly thanks to the outsized characters who fill the screen, and partly because Eggleston turns the “home movie” into art — Father of Modern Color Photography he may be, but he kicks just as much ass in eerie B&W, wrenching glorious images out of the early Sony Porta-Pak to conjure a febrile, desperate atmosphere that captures the Southern Gothic with an extraordinarily raw and rambling intimacy.

(CINEFAMILY  10.31.10)

“STRANDED IN CANTON” 1974/2008 directed by William Eggleston

don’t miss the screening this tuesday 11.2 — special guests TBA @ the Cinefamily organized by LACMA in conjunction with its exhibition opening today “William Eggleston: Democratic Camera – Photographs and Video, 1961-2008″ — though januay 2011…

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interview with director Julien Nitzberg…


Julien Nitzberg, associate producer of the cult documentary Dancing Outlaw, which stars the notorious Appalachian mountain dancer Jesco White, has set himself up for the same criticism that often gets leveled at fiction filmmakers like Lars Von Trier and Michael Haneke. When directors show politically incorrect behavior without passing judgment on that behavior, it rubs many folks the wrong way, leading to charges of misogyny in Von Trier’s case or nihilism in Haneke’s. Nitzberg’s latest film, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, has and will most certainly be judged exploitative for its celebratory portrayal of Jesco and his kin: poor, white, violent West Virginian drug dealers who have no qualms about snorting pills for the camera at their octogenarian matriarch’s birthday party. But underlying the reality-TV hi-jinks is a true respect for the subjects. Nitzberg seems almost in awe of the Whites’ ability to buck the system so thoroughly and blatantly. The Whites indeed have created their own lawless world where the primal, Biblical eye-for-an-eye rule trumps all. One can’t help but think Werner Herzog would be tickled pink by both the doc and the rebel director behind its lens.

Slant:What possessed you to want to make a film about the Whites and how did the production eventually come together?

Julien Nitzberg: I met Mamie White back in 1989 when I was making a documentary about Boone County‘s famous rockabilly and proto-punk singer, Hasil Adkins. Hasil and D. Ray White, the famous tap-dancing patriarch of the White family, used to perform together, so the Whites were good friends of Hasil’s. I was shooting Hasil’s concert and a crazed catfight broke out between three female fans of Hasil. This fight was like something out of an old western and went on forever. Finally Mamie jumped in and broke it up, tossing each woman to a different side of the bar like they were baby dolls. She was on acid that night and was pissed the catfight was ruining her good party. A week later, I saw Mamie again and she was on acid again. She kindly invited me to her birthday party, where she promised me she would have a “cake with tits and a pussy on it.” As a man who loves cake, I found this to be an offer I couldn’t refuse. At her house, I met Jesco and immediately became obsessed with the whole family. I went back the next week and shot the first footage of Jesco. This footage became the basis of Dancing Outlaw, the PBS documentary that made Jesco into a cult icon. So, 20 years later I get a call telling me that Johnny Knoxville was a fan of my documentaries and wanted to meet me. At this point, I’d stopped making documentaries and was working in Hollywood writing scripts for HBO and had just written and directed an operetta called The Beastly Bombing or a Terrible Tale of Terrorists Tamed by the Tangles of True Love, about a group of white supremacists who come to New York to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and meet a group of Al Qaeda terrorists who have arrived at the same time with the same plan. They eventually bond musically with songs about how much they both hate Jews. Anyway, Knoxville and I met and became friends, bonding over a mutual love of David Allan Coe’s X-rated country albums. He started coming to see Beastly Bombing every week and we started talking about doing a project together. I showed him my early Jesco footage one day and then the next thing I know he had the idea that I had to go back to West Virginia.

the interview continues

(SLANT MAGAZINE  10.30.10)





they’re not all bad…


Celebrities often forget that being famous doesn’t mean you’re good at everything. So it’s not surprising that some of our most praised and self-obsessed, thinking they had something deep to say, have tested the waters of poetry.

As you might expect, the poetry “establishment”–primarily the poets and critics that orbit and inhabit academia–doesn’t welcome celebs with open arms. In some cases, it won’t even acknowledge their existence. The Poetry Foundation’s Best Sellers list, for example, refuses to include celebrities. Elitism? In part. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard accomplished poets like Billy Collins–a former poet laureate for God’s sake–get ripped for being too readable. It’s also jealousy and frustration: if you’d worked a lifetime on your craft only to get outsold by Jewel–by about a million copies–you’d understand. And finally–let’s be honest–celebrity poems can be really, really bad.

the article continues


fromWarmed by Love” by Leonard Nimoy…

Rocket ships
Are exciting
But so are roses
On a birthday

Computers are exciting
But so is a sunset

And logic
Will never replace

Sometimes I wonder
Where I belong
In the future
In the past

I guess I’m just
An old-fashioned

a couple rhymers by Charlie Sheen…


Teacher, teacher, I don’t understand,
You tell me it’s like the back of my hand.
Should I play guitar and join the band?
Or head to the beach and walk in the sand?
Oh, teacher, teacher, I don’t understand…

… Teacher, teacher, the years have passed,
I never thought it would go so fast,
The things I learned they didn’t last.
I’m headin’ to sea as I raise the mast.
Oh, teacher, teacher, I’m a peace of your past.

A Goat In My Ass

There’s a goat in my ass,
Living mainly on grass.
They say the creature was stolen,
yet he feeds on my colon.

I don’t know how it got there,
As I burp up an occasional hair.
Often times I’ll sit and stare,
And drop pellets from my underwear.

Oh, these feelings may pass,
This wondrous goat,
In my ass.

and a bit from “Touch Me” by Suzanne Somers

Organic girl dropped by last night
For nothing in particular
Except to tell me again how beautiful and serene she feels
On uncooked vegetables and wheat germ fortified by bean sprouts–

Mixed with yeast and egg whites on really big days–
She not only meditates regularly, but looks at me like I should
And lectures me about meat and ice cream
And other aggressive foods I shouldn’t eat.

and another

If anyone has any extra love
Even a heartbeat
Or a touch or two
I wish they wouldn’t waste it on dogs.

Kristen Wiig with a terrific rendition of a few Somers classics…




a google eye view of the failed utopoia turned earth work…


In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself—the unfinished extension of a place called California City. Visible from above now are a series of badly paved streets carved into the dust and gravel, like some peculiarly American response to the Nazca Lines. The uninhabited street plan has become an abstract geoglyph—unintentional land art visible from airplanes—not a thriving community at all.

On Google Street View, distant structures like McMansions can be made out here and there amidst the ghost-grid, mirages of suburbia in the middle of nowhere. To make things slightly more surreal, in an attempt to boost its economic fortunes, California City hired actor Erik Estrada, of CHiPs fame, to act as the town’s media spokesperson.

The history of the town itself is of a failed Californian utopia—in fact, incredibly, if completed, it was intended to rival Los Angeles.

(BLDG BLOG  11.24.09)




prolific low budget sexploitation auteur madman genius…


Infidelity timed around the LIRR schedule. Key parties and sloppy boozing among the split-level set. Swappers, cheaters, hookers, and go-go girls. This was the world of filmmaker Joseph Sarno, who died in April of this year in his Manhattan home, age 89, living long enough to see his fecund output celebrated far beyond Times Square.

Not among the sexual-revolution opportunists who self-advertised as First Amendment Freedom Riders, Sarno’s soft-core psychodramas have been reappraised in the past decade on the merit of their own earnest, low-rent artistry (and through the efforts of home-video labels Something Weird and Retro Seduction Cinema, and writer Michael J. Bowen, at work on a Sarno biography). In the years following a retro at 2003’s New York Underground Film Festival, the owl-browed eminence was fested and feted across Europe. His work now returns stateside, to Anthology, for a five-film farewell.

Brooklyn-born in 1921, Joseph W. Sarno and his family emigrated with the first big wave of Long Island suburbanites to the middle-class commuter country that would be the setting of his defining work. Before becoming an avid chronicler of female erotic reaction, Sarno lived a certified red-meat Greatest Generation life: high school boxing and football, the Navy in World War II, a couple of marriages. Then, during a professional lull while making industrial films and writing ad copy, the nearing-40 Sarno wrote a sex movie at the suggestion of a friend. Co-director on that 1961 artists-and-models peek-a-boo, Nude in Charcoal, Sarno wrote and directed all of his 75-plus films that followed.

Sarno brought rare rigor to nil-budget shoots with schedules of a week or less. Actors—schlubby men and a menagerie of females with fascinating dimple chins and overbites—look out from the itchy-tight cell of a master shot. Choreographing down to the meaningful arch of a plucked, penciled-in eyebrow, Sarno got responsive performances in edged-with-desperation scenes that were mostly repetitive build-ups and delays rather than actual sexual calisthenics. (The “money shots” in Sarno’s ’60s nudie cuties are generally girls shucking bra straps off to reveal their bare shoulders.)

From Nude’s Village nightspot “Bongo Tom’s,” Sarno took the beat of bump-and-grind jazz quartets into the suburbs. He shot exteriors in hometown Amityville for his first color film, Moonlighting Wives (1966), the tale of Clairol-redhead Tammy Latour building an empire of play-for-pay housewives. Also in that year’s bumper crop was The Bed and How to Make It!, with broad-hipped Lolita Francine Ashley fermenting revolt in Aunt Patricia McNair’s motel, and scenes shot inside a Brooklyn bar called Cocoa Poodle. It’s this period that Andrew Sarris was thinking of in 1971 when appreciating in these pages the “suburban Italian look” of Sarno’s actors, and the “cramped compositions and flat perspective [that] were the ideal stylistic expressions of a charmingly naive Satanism.”

Sarno’s filmmaking, including a Florida vacation, remained East Coast–vernacular until the late ’60s. Then, in the heyday of “Scandinavian permissiveness,” Sarno decamped for Sweden at the behest of producer Jerry Gross. In 1968, Inga, the first of Sarno’s many runaway Swedish productions, began the flashing meteoric sex-stardom of Marie Liljedahl, playing the titular orphaned 17-year-old. Monica Strömmerstedt plays Inga’s guardian aunt (yet another), still trying to make the scene at 33, conspiring to auction her charge’s virginity so as to maintain an expensive affair with a sullen young writer-gigolo. The movie opens on Liljedahl playing with wind-up toys, then cuts to automaton kids jerking their hips to a pop song that blares about how “Everybody’s so hung up to do what they really feel.” Free love is in fashion, and Sarno’s swinging Stockholm is trapped in lockstep “liberated” beat. The filmmaker always recognized the pitfalls of the scene he celebrated.

Inga was one of many all-in-the-family scenarios that Sarno filmed through the years. In 1974’s Confessions of a Young American Housewife, fine-boned swinger Rebecca Brooke wanders among bare-limbed trees and trickling acoustic guitar, wondering how to liberate ripe-to-bursting widowed mother Jennifer Welles, who ends up almost too free when visiting a lesbian shaman. So many of Sarno’s last acts emphasize loss, abandonment, and punishment, but this shouldn’t brand him a closet prude. Desire in these films is a painful-ecstatic delirium, just too powerful to ever be casual.

Come the release of Confessions, the market for soft-core blocked out like Uncle Vanya was disappearing. Throats deepened, censorship laws loosened, and sex flicks without gross anatomy became antique. Sarno began doing hush-hush hard-core shoots, buried quietly under a mountain of pseudonyms such as “Irving Weiss,” “Monica Fitta,” and a dozen others. But when he was just Joe Sarno, there was nobody quite like him.

(VILLAGE VOICE  10.27.10)


screening 10.29-31 @ Anthology Film Archives, NYC…




the most thouroughly documented sighting of flying saucers ever…


Of all the reports of UFO sightings, some of the most intriguing ones are those which come in flaps, or waves, have multiple witnesses, and photographs. One of the most celebrated cases of this type was the Belgian flap which began in November of 1989. The events of November 29 would be documented by no less than thirty different groups of witnesses, and three separate groups of police officers. All of the reports described a large object flying at low altitude. The craft was of a flat, triangular shape, with lights underneath.

This giant craft made not a sound as it slowly and fearlessly moved across the landscape of Belgium. There was free sharing of information as the Belgian populace tracked this craft as it moved from the town of Liege to the border of the Netherlands and Germany.

This first startling sighting would evolve into a wave over the next several months. On two occasions, a pair of F-16 fighters chased the mysterious object, but to no avail. On March 30, 1990, a frantic call to military headquarters came from a Belgian national police Captain. He marveled at a giant triangle passing over, and simultaneously two ground radar stations were reporting an object of unknown origin on their screens. One of these bases was NATO controlled near the city of Glons, southeast of Brussels.

After contacting other radar facilities, they learned that at least four other stations were also reporting the object on their screens. The object was moving across their screens slowly, and failed to send a transponder signal to identify itself.

Two F-16s were ordered to intercept and identify this phenomena, and one of the jet’s radars locked the object in. It appeared as a small diamond on the pilot’s screen. The pilot reported that only a few seconds after locking on the target, the object began to pick up speed, quickly moving out of radar range. An hour long chase ensued, during which time the F-16s picked up the strange craft’s signal two additional times, only to see it fade from view.

The triangular craft seemed to be playing a cat and mouse game, and finally was lost in the night lights of Brussels. The pilots of the fighters reported that the UFO had made maneuvers at speeds beyond the capability of their technology, and once the radar showed the craft drop from 10,000 to 500 feet in 5 seconds!

The extraordinary sightings continued for months as the triangular invader was witnessed more than 1,000 times, both day and night. The object dipped low enough to easily be seen with the naked eye, and the event became one of the biggest stories in the Belgian media. Another unusual occurrence associated with the Belgian flap was the inability to take a clear photograph of it. Many observers had their cameras ready, and took what they thought would be clear images, but when the film was developed, the image was blurred, and the craft’s outline was vague at best.

This anomaly was addressed by physics professor Auguste Meessen, who was employed by the Catholic University at Louvin. Meessen’s investigation produced a theory that infrared light must be the reason that almost all the images were unclear. To put his theory to test, he exposed film to infrared, then photographed objects in regular light. The results were the same as the photographs of the triangle-shaped UFO.

One good image was finally captured on video tape in April 1990. This image showed the underbelly of the craft with spotlights on the three corners. A still frame from this tape has been seen worldwide, and is a classic UFO photograph. The Belgium wave has obtained classic status in UFO lore. With over 1,000 witnesses, confirmed radar sightings, plane radar lock-ins, and military confirmations, the fact that an unknown craft moved across the country of Belgium cannot be denied.


for images to compare, see the index of Best UFO Photos Ever


懸棺 of the 僰人…


ancient remains of the Bo People hang high on cliff faces in China…


The Bo were an ethnic minority people living astride the borders of modern day Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. There they created a brilliant culture as early as 3,000 years ago. The ancestors of the Bo helped the Western Zhou (c.1100  771 BC) to overthrow the ruling Yin at the end of the Shang Dynasty (c.1600  1100 BC).

The Bo differed from other ethnic groups in their burial customs. Typically hewn from durable hardwood logs, their hanging coffins went unpainted. The most recent hanging coffins were made up to about 400 years ago in the middle and later periods of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), while many of the earliest ones date back 1,000 years to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). To date, the earliest hanging coffin was one found in the Three Gorges area, dating back about 2,500 years to the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC- 476 BC).

The hanging coffin was the most widespread form of burial in ancient southwest China. However, the practice ended with the mysterious disappearance of the Bo People. Those who came after knew them from the hanging coffins and the paintings they left behind like faint echoes on the cliffs. Their ancient flowering of culture like that of the Maya is no more.

The hanging coffins were once a hot topic among architects, paleoanthropologists, folklorists and artists. In the Spring of 1941, experts on antiquities including Liang Sicheng, Lin Huiyin, Liu Dunzhen and Chen Mingda arrived at Sumawan, which is today part of Gongxian County. From far off, they saw a cliff some 600 meters long and rising 120 meters. Nearly 100 coffins hung on the cliff side supported on wooden stakes wedged into the rock. Other coffins rested on rock outcrops.

Some believed the coffins must have been lowered down with ropes from the top of the mountain. Some thought the coffins had been put in place using wooden stakes inserted into the cliff face to be used as artificial climbing aids. Others felt that scaling ladders were the answer. Lin said they could leave the mystery for later generations to solve.

Li Jing writing during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) offers a clue in his Brief Chronicles of Yunnan. “Coffins set high are considered auspicious. The higher they are the more propitious for the dead. And those whose coffins fell to the ground sooner were considered to be more fortunate.”

Cui Chen who is Curator of the Yibin Museum examines three different ways the coffins could have been put in place. “Earth ramps might have been used but experts discount this solution due to the extent of the labor required, which would have been difficult in an under-populated area. A timber scaffold supported on stakes in the cliff might have offered a plausible explanation but years of investigation have failed to find even a single stake hole. On balance the third option of lowering the coffins on ropes from above had always seemed feasible and now cultural specialists have found the telltale marks of the ropes which were used all these years ago. And so this part of the mystery of the hanging coffins has now been resolved.”

During the later years of the Ming Dynasty, the imperial army cruelly oppressed the ethnic minority peoples of Sichuan and Yunnan. In particular, the Duzhangman and Bo Peoples fell, victims of massacre. To escape their oppression, the Bo migrated to new locations. They hid their real names and integrated into other ethnic groups. Like their culture they have disappeared but their descendents are still here for they are a part of us.

(CHINA.ORG  2.10.03)

the entire article here


photograffeur JR…


winner of the 2011 TED Prize


It’s not common for important philanthropic prizes to go to people whose work involves criminal trespass and who make statements like the following: “You never know who’s part of the police and who’s not.”

But the TED conference, the California lecture series named for its roots in technology, entertainment and design, said on Tuesday that it planned to give its annual $100,000 prize for 2011 — awarded in the past to figures like Bill Clinton, Bono and the biologist E. O. Wilson — to the Parisian street artist known as J R, a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself by plastering colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods around the world. The images usually extol local residents, to whom he has become a Robin Hood-like hero.

For most recipients, the value of the six-year-old award has less to do with the money than with the opportunity it grants the winner to make a “wish”: to devote the funds to a humanitarian project that will almost inevitably draw donations and other help from the organization’s corporate partners and influential supporters. The chef Jamie Oliver, the 2010 prize winner, recently proposed setting up an international effort to further his campaign against obesity; Mr. Clinton’s wish has channeled significant resources toward the creation of a rural health system in Rwanda.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday morning on a bus in Shanghai, where he was headed to work on a largely unauthorized photo-pasting project to draw attention to the city’s demolition of historic neighborhoods, J R said that he had learned of the prize only two weeks ago and that he had not yet had time to think of a wish.

But he said that it would undoubtedly involve his kind of guerrilla art, which he has been creating with the help of volunteers in slums in Brazil, Cambodia and Kenya — where the outsize photographs, printed on waterproof vinyl, doubled as new roofs for ramshackle houses. “I’m kind of stunned,” he said of the prize. “I’ve never applied for an award in my life and didn’t know that somebody had nominated me for this.”

At a time when street art is being embraced not only by the art world but also by branding interests, J R, who dislikes being called a street artist, preferring the term “photograffeur” (graffeur is French for graffiti artist) has become known for rejecting corporate sponsorship offers and other outside help. He said that he reinvested most of the money he makes by selling his art in galleries and at auction — one piece went for more than $35,000 at Sotheby’s in 2009 — into creating more ambitious projects, and that he would use the TED prize money for the same purpose.

“If there’s one thing I’ve always taken care of with my work, it’s that it’s never an advertisement for anything other than the work itself and for the people it’s about — no ‘Coca-Cola presents,’ ” he said, speaking in English. “I think the TED people knew that that was one of my main concerns, and I feel pretty sure that we can come up with a project that works that way.”

the article continues...

(NY TIMES  10.19.10)

many more incredible projects at JR’s website




a transparent-headed Opisthoproctidae…

what looks like eyes are nostrils — the eyes are the green balls…


With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes–topped by green, orblike lenses–in a picture released today but taken in 2004.

The fish, discovered alive in the deep water off California’s central coast by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is the first specimen of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact.

The 6-inch (15-centimeter) barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) had been known since 1939–but only from mangled specimens dragged to the surface by nets.





three projects — small, medium, and large…



Benchmark is a high quality furniture making company whose work is typically one-off large scale commissions in wood. In the spare moments between undertaking such projects Benchmark started to manufacture collections of smaller furniture pieces and asked the studio to design pieces that demonstrate their exceptional making skills.

Plank was conceived as a table made from a single piece of wood. The design evolved through experiments folding paper the proportion of a plank, with slightly angled folds across the width. The final iteration defined the angles that produce a spiral where the two free ends finish next to each other.

Plank is a six-foot length of solid wood that can be folded into a coffee table, side table or stool and folded out again to make a plank. When in the table configuration, the free ends are supported on the stainless steel hinge pins. The four joints are engineered to high tolerances, so that when unfolded into the straight plank, the joints on the closed face are almost imperceptible.

Rolling Bridge 2004

The studio was commissioned to design a pedestrian bridge to span an inlet of the Grand Union Canal at Paddington Basin, London, and provide an access route for workers and residents. Crucially, the bridge needed to open to allow access for the boat moored in the inlet.

The aim was to make the movement the extraordinary aspect of the bridge. A common approach to designing opening bridges is to have a single rigid element that fractures and lifts out of the way. Rolling Bridge opens by slowly and smoothly curling until it transforms from a conventional, straight bridge, into a circular sculpture which sits on the bank of the canal.

The structure opens using a series of hydraulic rams integrated into the balustrade. As it curls, each of its eight segments simultaneously lifts, causing it to roll until the two ends touch and form a circle. The bridge can be stopped at any point along its journey.

The whole structure was constructed at Littlehampton Welding on the Sussex coast and then floated up the Grand Union Canal, before being lifted into position and attached to the hydraulic system which powers its movement.

East Beach Café 2007

Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design a café building to replace a seafront kiosk in Littlehampton on England’s south coast. With the post-war rise in cheap package holidays having deprived the English seaside town of investment and downgraded many of them to cheap clichés, the studio’s client saw an opportunity to change this. Mother and daughter team Jane Wood and Sophie Murray, both residents of Littlehampton, were keen to do something different that might begin to re-establish the importance of the English seaside town.

The studio saw the challenge as responding to the constraints of the narrow site by producing a long, thin building without flat, two-dimensional façades. The envelope is sliced diagonally into strips which wrap up and over the building, creating a layered protective shell, open to the seafront. The elevation looking onto the sea is fully glazed, protected at night by roller shutters concealed within the building’s geometry, the 30 centimetre width of the ribbons being the dimension of a shutter mechanism.

In contrast to the conventional white-washed seaside aesthetic, the building is raw and weathered, with the structural steel shell protected by a coating that permits rust-like patination to develop without affecting structural performance. A kiosk and cafeteria by day and a restaurant in the evening, the East Beach Cafe seats sixty.





shot four days before the 1906 earthquake & fire that destroyed most everything captured in the film…

(note: the rolling frames end for the most part after about a minute and a half…)


The film was shot by early San Francisco film innovators the Miles Brothers and has been widely available through the Library of Congress and You Tube and was originally dated to the fall of 1905 but recently local author and silent film historian David Kiehn made some surprising discoveries about its date. He had seen “A Trip Down Market Street” many times over the years but it was only around 2005 that he managed to get ahold of a 16mm print which made him “all the more curious about it.” The Library of Congress had researched and dated the filming to September or October of 1905.

At first Kiehn was just trying to confirm the 1905 shoot date so he thought “there were 5 newspapers in San Francisco at that time so somebody must have written about it.” He dug through the San Francisco Public Library’s collection of microfilm starting with August of 1905 and running through October 1905. He went “page by page and couldn’t find a single thing about it so I looked at the film again more closely and I noticed that there were puddles in the cavities by the rails on the street and especially at the end of the film autos drive through puddles splashing water.” So, he went back to the papers and checked the weather reports for the period only to find that September and October of 1905 were “as dry as a bone.”

Kiehn took a look at the angle of the sun and narrowed the time of year to late March or April 1906. Then he examined the buildings along Market Street, the state of construction narrowed the window down to late 1905 or before the earthquake in 1906. To tie all these pieces together he “went back to the papers to look for information on filming and weather reports. In March and April, especially late March 1906, there was a lot of rain but there weren’t any references to any filming being done.” But, “being a film historian I then realized that there was a theatrical magazine where filmmakers of the day advertised their films called the New York Clipper. The San Francisco Public Library coincidentally has that magazine on microfilm so I looked at late March and April of 1906.”

In the April 28th edition he saw an ad by the Miles Brothers for two films that they were just releasing called “A Trip down Mount Tamalpais” and “A Trip down Market Street.” The ad appeared ten days after the April 18, 1906 earthquake but Kiehn notes that this wasn’t someone playing games with history. Since print publications required a long lead time for composition it was most likely composed by April 18th, 1906. The films were shot on or around April 12th and shipped to New York on April 17th, the eve of the quake.

That would appear to confirm the date for the film but Kiehn dug deeper by dating the early license plates on cars in the film. The DMV told him that the records no longer existed but he found them in the California State Archives in Sacramento. He eventually found one of the plate numbers from the film, 4867, and traced it to a Jay Anway who registered his car in early 1906 which further verified his research.

There are many other twists and turns along the way to confirming the film’s date. Kiehn has written up the entire tale in the most recent issue of The Argonaut.

(SF GATE.COM  4.30.10)

“A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET” 1906 directed by the Miles Brothers

according to the IMDB the film’s negative was taken by train to the Miles Brothers New York office on April 17, 1906 — saving it from destruction by one day…




planet Earth’s oldest surgical procedure…


Trepanation is the process of cutting a hole in the skull. According to John Verano, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, trepanation is the oldest surgical practice and is still performed ceremonially by some African tribes. A trepanned skull found in France was dated at about 5,000 BCE. About 1,000 trepanned skulls from Peru and Bolivia date from 500 BCE to the 16th century.

Bart Huges (b. 1934), a medical school graduate who has never practiced medicine except for a bit of self-surgery, believes that trepanation is the way to higher consciousness. He says that he wanted to be a psychiatrist but failed the obstetrics exam and so never went into practice. In 1965, after years of experimentation with LSD, cannabis, and other drugs, Dr. Huges realized that the way to enlightenment was by boring a hole in his skull. He used an electric drill, a scalpel, and a hypodermic needle (to administer a local anesthetic). The operation took him 45 minutes. How does it feel to be enlightened? “I feel like I did when I was 14,” says Huges.

What led Dr. Huges to believe that trepanation would lead to enlightenment?  His first insight came when he was taught that he could get high by standing on his head. He came to believe that by permanently relieving pressure he could increase the flow of blood to the brain and achieve his goal. After he took a little mescaline he soon understood what was going on. “I recognized that the expanded consciousness was attributed to an increase in the volume of blood to the brain.” How has such a simple fact eluded scientists and mystics alike for so many millennia?

In the past,  trepanation was used either to relieve pressure on the brain caused by disease or trauma, or to release evil spirits. The former is still an accepted medical procedure. The latter has died out in those parts of the world where scientific understanding has replaced belief in invading demons. Huges has yet to command a large following of trepanners, but he has managed to attract a few supporters with holes in their heads. One of his most illustrious pupils was Amanda Fielding from Oxford, England, who not only lived through the filming of her self-surgery but also became a candidate for Parliament. She received 40 votes from the people of Chelsea in 1978 where she ran on the promise of free trepanation from the National Health Service.

Feilding maintains that having a hole in her head allows more oxygen to reach her brain and helps expand her consciousness. It’s safer than LSD, she says, apparently convinced those are her only two options to expand her consciousness. She claims she now has more energy and inspiration, and is on a permanent natural high. She claims the trepanned are better prepared to fight neurosis and depression and less likely to become prone to alcoholism and drug addiction.  One could say that she is very open-minded.

It should go without saying but it must be said anyway: trepanation is risky and can cause brain damage and infection. Also, according to Sugey Restituyo, many trepanners “later claim to have alien contacts and join the Raël movement.”


the Raël are folks trying to build a nice place for Aliens to land when they finally arrive…

have a look at the trailer for “A Hole In The Head” — a documentary on practitioners of contemporary trepanation…

“A HOLE IN THE HEAD” 1998 directed by Eli Kabillio




“All Sorts of Sports” — the lost manuscript…


Over forty years ago, Theodore S. Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, began work on a book. Per usual, he had assistants working with him, one of whom managed the project. For reasons noted below, he put the manuscript aside. Then, in 1983, he reconsidered it when his former employee sent it to him for a long-lost look.

It consists of nineteen handwritten and drawn pages, the first seven of which are completely in the hand of Dr. Seuss. The remaining pages are mostly written by an assistant with corrections and doodles by Dr. Seuss, some taped on.

The text, written in Seussian prose, reads, in part:

“All Sorts of Sports. Shall I play checkers? golf? croquet? There are so many games there are to play. I could. / maybe.. / shall I.. There are so many many sorts. So many sorts of games + sports. What am I going to do today? There are so many games to play! I guess I won’t. I’m all tired out. 100 GAMES & sports you can play. You can play checkers. You can play chess. Baseball. Football. Volleyball. Basketball. You can ski on snow. You can ski on water. And tiddle-de-winks. What am I going to do today. Well, that’s a simple matter. Oh, that’s easy. We could play. There are so many sports games to play. We could swim. I could play baseball…golf..or catch. Or I could play a tennis match. There are so many sports, let’s see… I could bowl, jump hurdles, or water ski. I could blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf. Or blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf.”

The last page, marked page “6-7″ by Dr. Seuss seems to be where the assistant took over, though Seuss adds corrections and doodles, as previously mentioned, some taped on.

The manuscript is accompanied by a Dr. Seuss TLs (typed letter, signed), autographed “Ted,” regarding this unfinished book on Cat in the Hat Beginner Books letterhead dated July 11, 1983.

“Re your enclosed manuscript, I do indeed remember it. And my critique now is as same as then. What, in my opinion, is wrong with this story is that…despite the greatness of Pete as a stellar athlete hero…the negative image of him flubbing and unable to catch any ball at all will make him a schnook.

“This is not entirely apparent in the text, but when you picture these negative scenes in illustrations, you will find that negatives are always more memorable than positives. And I think the reader’s reaction will be, ‘What’s the matter with this dope?’ I may be wrong of course…so why not send it to Harper and Row who do very good brat books and several times have made best sellers out of properties that I’ve rejected.”

In short, a schnook in a book is not a great hook.

The advice to submit the book to Harper and Row is somewhat sarcastic; after the success of The Cat in the Hat Random House set up Seuss with his own imprint, Beginner Books. in partnership with Random House publisher Bennett Cerf’s wife, Phyllis Fraser Cerf, and Geisel’s wife, Helen. Harper and Row slavishly tried  to goose the Seuss juice for their specially created imprint devoted to “brat books.”

Readers of this letter may experience a bit of confusion over who actually wrote this manuscript. I called Nate D. Sanders Auctions – who is offering the manuscript – for clarification. Mr. Sanders replied:

“I obtained this from one of Seuss’ past employees who was a writers assistant.  She was given the task of managing this  book  project.  The first few pages of  the manuscript  are entirely in Seuss’s hand.  Later, the assistant took over.   When Seuss refers to the manuscript as the assistant’s, he is referring to the fact that it was her project and that it was indeed hers not his and she took possession of it, not him.”

This is an eye-popping find, a Seuss book in its earliest stage, rough Seuss draft, an abandoned project not only never before seen on the market but never before seen or heard of, period.

(BOOKTRYST  10.14.10)

many more sketches to see at Nate D. Sanders Auctions




grab your ear goggles — the best radio show is back…

with a GIANT Loop Tank Bag for his custom Ducati…


Steve Jones has again found someone to power his jukebox.

Jones, the Sex Pistols guitarist who hosted the popular “Jonesy’s Jukebox” radio show on Indie 103.1 from 2004 until the station’s demise in early 2009, will begin a weekly show on Sunday nights at modern rock giant KROQ (FM 106.7), the station announced this morning. The new incarnation of “Jonesy’s Jukebox” will run from 7 to 9 p.m.

The station’s program director, Kevin Weatherly, said: “Sunday nights on KROQ has historically been home to groundbreaking programming beginning with the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer over 30 years ago. In fact, Rodney was one of the first DJs in America to play the Sex Pistols.”

Jones’ post-Indie 103 job as a show host on an Internet station belonging to ended a few months ago.

(BUZZ BANDS  10.6.10)




“Kill City was by all measures a desperate effort… another in a long line of flops that were later resurrected and heralded as masterpieces.” — James Williamson


A nutshell version of the Kill City saga:

The Stooges make two great albums (The Stooges and Fun House), chaos ensues and they break up; superfan David Bowie tries to make Iggy a star and produces another great album (Raw Power), bigger chaos ensues, and the new lineup slouches toward 1975, before imploding (onstage, as documented on the Metallic KO live album).

Iggy tries to get clean and sober, at a mental institution. Guitarist Williamson starts working on some potential Stoogey tracks in L.A. (at Jimmy “MacArthur Park” Webb’s studio!) and Iggy periodically checks himself out of the loony bin to lay in his vocals. The tapes are “completed” but nobody wants to put them out. Two years go by.

In 1977, Iggy’s career is hot again, thanks to a “Berlin-era” Bowie intervention, and L.A. indie label Bomp! decides to take a chance on the old Iggy/Williamson material: Kill City comes out during the punk era, although the mix is famously murky and the record is poorly pressed (on green vinyl!).

But through the years and Iggy’s shedding of skins and styles, this crazy little record has never really gone away. It gets regularly name-checked, though, in a replay of the debate over the Bowie-mixed Raw Power; fans of rawwwwk complained about its sound and lack of punch.

Those fans are in for a surprise: The new, cleaned-up Kill City is a vast improvement over the previous version and reveals the superb material as the missing, debauched L.A. link between Exile on Main Street and Appetite for Destruction. There’s authentic, ramshackle ’70s rock, there’s a touch of glam, there are tips of the hat to the classic Stooges sound, and there are even some surprising, progressive instrumentals: The title track, “I Got Nothin,'” and “Johanna” are the more typical highlights, but closer “Master Charge” points at the understated sophistication that has been a mark of Mr. Osterberg’s work over the years.

(LA WEEKLY  10.7.10)

check out this ’05 NPR interview of Iggy by Terry Gross…




in the tradition of “Dark Days”, another look into the underworld…

the “Third of May” tunnel mural by Freedom…


Beneath New York’s skyscrapers are 18 levels of tunnels and 468 open or abandoned subway stations. Three decades ago, many homeless Vietnam-era veterans homesteaded this urban wilderness. However, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, city officials became less tolerant of the tunnel dwellers and most were forced to abandon their underground abodes. Documentary filmmaker Chantal Lasbats travels through narrow portals into a maze of corridors and passageways to meet a few hardy denizens of this hidden world who continue to live there.

“THE TUNNEL DWELLERS OF NEW YORK” 2008 directed by Chantal Lasbats

coming up 10.10 & 11 on the Sundance Channel




thirty plus years photographing L.A…


Los Angeles photographer John Humble has been documenting the dynamic structure of the city and all of its rivers, highways, and suburbs for more than 30 years. The recipient of a 1979 National Endowment for the Arts award to photograph the city on the occasion of its bicentennial, Humble continued over the years to capture the views that make L.A. unique.

(FLAVORPILL  10.6.10)

an exhibition of John Humble photography is on view at Stieglitz 19, Antwerp through 10.10.10…




34 years before Eddie Nash took down Wonderland Avenue, a secret corps of filmmakers set up shop there and made thousands of classified films about the atomic bomb…


They risked their lives to capture on film hundreds of blinding flashes, rising fireballs and mushroom clouds.

Their existence and the nature of their work has emerged from the shadows only since the federal government began a concerted effort to declassify their films about a dozen years ago. In all, the atomic moviemakers fashioned 6,500 secret films, according to federal officials.

Today, the result is a surge in fiery images on television and movie screens, as well as growing public knowledge about the atomic filmmakers.

Electrified wire ringed their headquarters in the Hollywood Hills. The inconspicuous building, on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, had a sound stage, screening rooms, processing labs, animation gear, film vaults and a staff of more than 250 producers, directors and cameramen — all with top-secret clearances.

A 2006 book, “How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb” explores the nature of the cameramen’s secretive enterprise, its pages full of declassified photographs and technical diagrams.

“They’re kind of unrecognized patriots,” said Peter Kuran, the book’s author and a special-effects filmmaker in Hollywood. “The images that they captured will, for a long time, be a snapshot of what our last century was like.”

The secret film unit, established in 1947 by the military, was known as the Lookout Mountain Laboratory. Surrounded by the lush greenery of Laurel Canyon, just minutes from the Sunset Strip, the lab drew on Hollywood talent and technology to pursue its clandestine ends.

“The neighbors were suspicious because the lights were on all night long,” Mr. Yoshitake recalled.

Film historians say the unit tested many technologies that Hollywood later embraced, including advanced lenses and cameras, films and projection techniques.

The cameramen fanned out from Wonderland Avenue to governmental test sites in the South Pacific and the Nevada desert, their job to chronicle the age’s fury. It put them as close as two miles from the blasts.

Hollywood stars appeared in some of the films. Reed Hadley, star of the 1950s television show “Racket Squad,” portrayed a pipe-smoking military observer who, in 1952, witnessed the world’s first hydrogen blast.

Official Washington saw many of the films. Members of Congress, who controlled the appropriation of atomic funds, got special viewings.

Atomic leaders “put on their best shows” for Congress, Charles P. Demos, a former classification official with the Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear weapons program, recalled in an interview. “They probably affected a lot of the decisions.”

The guarded enterprise lost its subject matter in 1963 when the superpowers agreed to move all testing of nuclear weapons underground, ending the spectacle of atmospheric blasts and what governments had come to regard as serious risks to human health from radioactive fallout.

Today, the Energy Department says it has released publicly some 100 movies from the vast stockpile, which the military controls. “What you see is what we have,” said Darwin Morgan, a department spokesman in Las Vegas.

A page on the department’s Web site features links to clips from the atomic films that visitors can view free of charge and sells full versions as videodiscs for $10, plus shipping. It calls them “an enduring, awesome visual documentation of the power and destruction of nuclear weapons.” Many are available free on YouTube under the search heading “declassified U.S. nuclear test film.”

(NY TIMES  9.13.10)

the complete article here




wrapping up their tour at the Hollywood Bowl last night with Sonic Youth and No Age…


There was a time, back when the world was greener and the whole nation seemed to be turning 23, when we needed a leader who wouldn’t lead too much, we wanted a savior who had other stuff going on. This was, in layman’s terms, the 1990s.

The markets were beginning to rise and though we were not beneficiaries in any major way, some of us at least had a story about getting a 50 dollar tip on a 20 dollar tab. In other scene-setting details, the strange dust of Desert Storm was settling and O.J. Simpson was getting testy. It was mainly summertime, those years, and there seemed, in retrospect, to be an eerily normal amount of noise around. Conditions on the ground and in the air—if you can detect these things in real time, and you can’t—were perfect. In rode, many would say, the rock band Pavement.

Stylistically speaking, in terms of clothing, they arrived in shirts and pants and shoes (there’s really no other way to say it). They had haircuts, but it didn’t really look it. While other bands were mumbling or over-enunciating their dreary positions or penny-candy philosophies, Pavement kind of screamed for a generation. But they did it in a way that was so deeply American that it was almost Scandinavian. Or, if they spoke for a generation, they spoke for it out of the sides of their mouths, which gave the generation a little leeway, some wiggle-room to get older in.

Looking back on the band—its history, records and general approach to life and music—an argument could be gently made that they were one of the greatest rock bands ever. Or, the most real rock band ever. Or the only something-something in recent memory. Certainly, a range of critics and streets and prairies full of fans have claimed that Slanted and Enchanted is the best rock album of the ‘90s.

I mention all of these possibilities to Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg. “It’s kind of funny to think that we are a band in the history of music,” is his unassuming response. “I’m not a musician, ?per se?,” says band member Bob Nastanovich, among other equally modest things, over the phone, while making “a big pot of chili.” Singer and main songwriter Stephen Malkmus is similarly disarming: “The proof is in the pudding of the records and how they sound, how they sound today. We can be up there. We have our niche, a niche, in what’s going on and music history. I don’t know about ‘great bands,’ or whatever.”

Having gotten a sense of the tone and temperature of these three, one can only assume that drummer Steve West, currently playing with his band Marble Valley, and bassist Mark Ibold, who’s been playing with Sonic Youth for the last few years, would display a similar humility and sense of proportion when pressed with any of these claims of greatness.

There is a group of undoubtedly decent and intelligent people who’ve never heard of Pavement.* There is another group who’ll say things like, “Pavement songs are like my own personal On Kawara ‘Date Paintings.’ There is a third and larger group for whom neither response rings any bells. So, for their sake, Pavement was a rock music band in the 1990s, quintessentially. They released five critically acclaimed albums, some selling in the hundreds of thousands, toured extensively, possibly ruined Lollapalooza, avoided eye-contact with Jay Leno, and then disbanded in 1999-2000.

On Kawara is a contemporary painter who made a series of paintings informally called the “Date Paintings.” They are small black paintings, completed in one day, on which On Kawara carefully painted the day’s date, and nothing more. May 7, 1975, for instance. You can probably think of others. In our famous world of flux and change, he wanted to create at least one unchanging and non-revisable thing. And for some of us, the songs on Pavement’s records serve this purpose: we remember exactly where we were the first time that we heard a song, all of the joys and pains that came without musical accompaniment in between, and, exactly where we were, the last time. Presidents have come and gone, new stars have burst on to the pro tennis circuit and everything has gotten older. The march of time has amplified feelings and filled in meanings in a way that disciplined analysis could never do.

Those paintings are also sometimes collectively referred to as “Todays,” which is a worthwhile word. I mentioned On Kawara to Malkmus, and he says, “My wife’s a big fan of his. I don’t really understand it, really. There’s something about it that really moves her. I guess I can see it.” His response is almost immediate, as if I had said something about Picasso or Norman Rockwell. To think that Sarah Palin thought that, “What magazines do you read?” was an example of gotcha-journalism. Malkmus adds, “I appreciate the wide-ranging cultural knowledge of our fan base. That’s cool, no matter what.”

the article continues

(RELIX  2.3.10)


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